National Buy a Musical Instrument Day

May 22 is National Buy a Musical Instrument Day, and it’s an opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon the impact of music on cultures around the world. In the past of any culture lies some point where music underscored acts and events of importance, be it drums of war or songs of marriage, birthdays, or religion. Indeed, in many societies, art such as beadwork, pottery crafting, dancing, painting, and music is a key part of life.

In the past, music was integral to Native culture and now, on the reservations, music continues to be a part of everyday life, whether it helps someone work, celebrate, or even find some solace in the hardships of their life. Music gives us something to look forward to, talk about, or share. Friends have jam sessions after school and on weekends, and groups gather to learn the traditional songs of the Lakota and help carry this tradition on to future generations. Even those among us who were never encouraged to learn our traditions or language were at least encouraged to learn our music or our arts.

PWNA has shared with me that in 2015 they supported Native youth through a group known as Teens for Music, which promotes music as a positive interest and cultural activity, and organizes workshops that teach Native youth how to play musical instruments.

As an alternative to boredom or harmful habits, learning to play a musical instrument is a positive and beneficial hobby that enriches every aspect of life. In fact, there seems to be a correlation between music and quality of life. Studies show that those who play musical instruments tend to do better in school and work, experience more happiness and productivity, and experience less stress. Programs in music (and other arts) give teens a chance to find their passion, de-stress, make friends, and hopefully be happier overall.

Personally, music became a huge passion for me after high school, and I began integrating it into my exercise, hobbies, and even sleep. It has amplified my experiences and in a way helps me store the memories of my life. Many of us in fact catalog our lives by the music we were listening to when… and songs that once meant … now hold personal experience or meaning.

It is very hard to imagine a world without songs, or melodies, or even tunes that get stuck in our heads. Music nurtures us, develops us, accompanies us, and rewards us as we journey through our lives. Surely, more programs like Teens for Music and recognitions like National Buy a Musical Instrument Day could benefit indigenous youth and other youth across the country.

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